Maharashtra made in four wins in a row on Tuesday to seal their berth in the final of the Syed Mushtaq Ali 2019 trophy, thanks to a breath-taking 95* off 58 from Nikhil Naik and pacer Samad Fallah’s three wickets that ensured a 21-run victory over Railways. Maharashtra now face Karnataka in the final on March 14.

Put into bat, Maharashtra lost their openers – Ruturaj Gaikwad (9) and captain Rahul Tripathi (2) – for just 16 in the fifth over. (ALSO READ: Mumbai out of contention despite win over Uttar Pradesh)

That was the only low for Maharashtra, who then took off to the next gear with Naik and Naushad Shaikh at the crease. Naik, who remained unbeaten on 95, smashed eight towering sixes and four boundaries during his 58-ball knock that left the opposition bowling attack in tatters. He was well supported by Shaikh, who kept up the run-rate scoring 59 off 39 – his innings laced with six boundaries and two sixes.

While Shaikh fell to Amit Mishra, Naik hogged most of the strike despite Maharashtra losing two quick wickets – Ankit Bawne (8) and Divyang Himganekar (0) – both to Manjeet Singh as they finished at 177/5. (ALSO READ: CSK wicketkeeper-batsman N Jagadeesan in awe of MS Dhoni’s fitness)

In reply, Railways were off to a good start with Mrunal Devdhar’s 55 off 44 which included five boundaries and a solitary six. However, he received no support from the other end as Railways began to crumble under scoreboard pressure. They folded for 156 with Fallah emerging as the pick of the bowlers with three for 37 in his four overs. Satyajeet Bachhav, Himganekar and Shaikh pocketed two wickets apiece.

Brief scores: Maharashtra 177/5 (Nikhil Naik 95*, Naushad Shaikh 59; Manjeet Singh 2/36) beat Railways 156 all out in 20 overs (Mrunal Devdhar 55; Samad Fallah 3/37, Satyajeet Bachhav 2/22, Divyang Himganekar 2/26, Shaikh 2/8) by 21 runs